Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, Part 1

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Faulty Arguments Against Veganism, Part 1

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you’ve probably heard these arguments at least a few times–but more likely, you’ve been beaten over the head with them repeatedly to the point of insanity.  The best part about these oh-so-common arguments against veganism is that they are easily refutable.  Over the next few blog posts, I’ll be giving fun examples I collected from around the web.

Argument: “I don’t think there are enough resources on the earth if everybody decides to go vegetarian/vegan. so I am happy other people eat meat actually.”

Response: It’s more like the opposite:

  • “It takes 2 1/2 pounds of grains to create a pound of chicken,  6 1/2 pounds  to get a pound of pork, and 7 pounds to get a pound of beef. (Ephraim Liebtag, “Corn Prices Near Record High, but What About Food Costs?”, February 2008)
  • Beef uses up 16 times more fossil fuel energy and generates 24 times the Carbon Dioxide than an calorically-equivalent meal of rice and veggies.  (Gidon Eshel, Bard College, Pamela A. Martin, Univ. of Chicago)

And so actually, we’d be using far less resources (and saving the environment) if more people were to go vegan.

vegenvironment

Stay tuned for part 2!


8 Comments

Allison

June 24, 2009 at 11:02 am

This is one of the arguments my boyfriend brings up from time to time (he’s supportive, but likes to play devil’s advocate sometimes).

When I respond with how it takes however many pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat, he points out that meat is nutritionally different from grains (or soy, or corn, etc), and while you can’t live on grains alone, if you fed some to animals you could have a more nutritionally diverse diet. So while we may be able to product tons and tons of grain, the issue is whether there is enough land around to produce enough for everyone of all of the other varieties of fruits, nuts and veggies that veg*ns eat.

So basically what I’m wondering is, are there any statistics about whether we could feed everybody a diet that is vegan/vegetarian, calorically sufficient AND nutritionally diverse enough to meet all dietary requirements?

I suspect that it is possible, but I haven’t found any easily referenced facts saying that it is. (Yet.)

Becci

June 24, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Hi Allison! Thanks for your response. Your boyfriend has a good point, because obviously we wouldn’t be able to live on corn, soy, and oats alone. It’s something I’ve been wondering myself.

I have a couple of links that may help answer your question–they refer to specifically to nutrients and caloric equivalents–but they aren’t quite what we’re looking for. The third bullet above also discusses caloric equivalency.

“A VARIED vegan diet uses less than one third of the land needed for a typical European omnivorous diet…”: http://www.vegansociety.com/newsroom/index.php?/plugin/faqs/7/31

“Much more land is required to produce animal foods such as meat & milk than to produce the equivalent amount of plant foods (to give the same amount of energy or the same amount of protein).”: http://www.wvd.org.au/faq09environment.php

Anyway, I don’t think anybody necessarily knows for sure that we’d be able to grow grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, etc. for the entire world, but I’ll tell you one thing: we’re already well-aware that we DON’T have enough land to provide the entire world with a meat and dairy-laden diet. That’s why we continue to chop down the rainforests at such an alarming rate–yes, a great deal of the deforested land goes to growing soybeans, but as you already know, the majority of those soybeans are fed to farm animals, not people. (Here’s a related article, if you’re interested: http://www.foodnavigator.com/Financial-Industry/Soy-suppliers-accused-of-rainforest-destruction)

On a side note, it’s pretty unrealistic to imagine an entirely vegan world anyway. There will probably always be societies so separated from the rest of the world that they are reliant on whatever food they can grow–or kill–on their own land. (It’s entirely possible that a situation like this would be more sustainable than the ability to ship food to every location on the planet anyway, honestly.)

Thanks again for your comment and let me know if you come up with any useful info!

Joanne

June 25, 2009 at 3:22 pm

I’m inclined to think that if we can grow enough crop to feed 60 billion animals a year, it would be much easier to feed 6 billion people on a vegan diet. In fact, if we got rid of all the animal mouths we have to feed, we can have enough resources to feed the world 10 times over on a varied diet of fruits, veggies and grain.

As for the nutritional value of meat…..meat has very low nutritional value, it is devoid of fiber and antioxidants. It is laden with heart stopping cholesterol, “animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed during the processing or cooking of meat. HCAs, formed as meat is cooked at high temperatures, and PAHs, formed during the burning of organic substances, are believed to increase cancer risk.” http://kaursrecipe.com/go-veggie/

We can live on a much healthier and nutritionally diverse diet and be able to produce more fruits, veggies, nuts and grain if we just got rid of the inefficient process of raising animals for food.

Arguments Against Veganism, Part 2 | Liberation BC blog

June 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm

[…] Liberation BC blog « Arguments Against Veganism, Part 1 […]

wo_dao

June 28, 2009 at 1:05 am

*bah* To be blunt and honest, this whole “nutritional needs” thing is annoying me.

When you go raw vegan, or fruitarian, etc etc.

Your nutritional needs change. I ain’t waitin’ another day for another scientist to “prove” anything.

A favorite quote:

“I rather continue fighting on the field rather than having to waste time ‘proving myself’ worthy just to resolve and finish off this brutal war.”

Yeah, I know. But as an adult now…I take my own responsibility when going an alternate path, even if I screw up, I fix it myself, even when nutritional needs. Personal senses are sure the way to go.

Arguments Against Veganism, part 3 | Liberation BC blog

July 1, 2009 at 6:39 pm

[…] anyway, as I said in the first response, a vegan diet actually requires fewer plants–and therefore results in fewer dead […]

Arguments Against Veganism, part 4 | Liberation BC blog

July 8, 2009 at 6:13 pm

[…] system, which certainly reduces the likelihood that they feel pain. And if they do feel pain, a vegan diet still kills far fewer plants than one with animal products. Share and […]

jormahm

August 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Premaculture is the key!!!!! Grow vegetable products without using fossil fuels and using only rain water. Also brings food production to your own area home. Check it out!

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